John Davidson couldn’t look at the television screen during the NHL draft lottery Monday night. But David Quinn did and it nearly landed him on the Rangers’ injured reserve.
“I almost pulled a hamstring jumping out of my chair when I saw that ping pong ball shoot up that little shoot there,” the Rangers coach said on MSG Network’s “Around the NHL,” which was set to air at 6:30 p.m. Friday night. “Obviously it was a week of highs and lows. And to then have that happen Monday night, really switched things a little bit. It made everyone feel good.”
Quinn’s job got a little easier when the Rangers hit the jackpot with the No. 1 pick and the chance to draft Canadian winger Alexis Lafreniere, who is expected to contribute at the NHL level right away.
The lottery luck came less than a week after the Rangers were swiftly knocked out of the postseason, getting swept by the Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup qualifiers. But a year after the ping pong balls landed them the No. 2 pick, with which they drafted Kaapo Kakko, they will be adding another big piece to their rebuilding project.
“I have a lot of faith in our organization, our scouting staff, [general manager] Jeff Gorton and [assistant GM] Chris Drury, that we’re going to pick the right player,” Quinn said. “And they have done a heck of a job these last two years since we’ve sent out that letter.”
Davidson, the team president, and Gorton said earlier this week that the rebuild isn’t done, which was evident by their quick departure from the postseason bubble.
But they are hoping the strides it took to even be in a position to go to Toronto and the playoff experience will benefit them moving forward.
“There were a laundry list of players that had good seasons that maybe you wouldn’t expect,” Quinn said. “Starting with Mika [Zibanejad]. [Ryan] Strome had a great season. [Artemi] Panarin had a great season. [Filip] Chytil had a great season after coming back from Hartford. Kappo made some great strides. [Brett] Howden made some great strides. [Ryan] Lindgren and [Adam] Fox, nobody counted on them having the seasons they had. I thought [Jacob] Trouba had a great second half. Marc Staal had a great second half. Tony DeAngelo had a great season. There are a bunch of guys that we can point to as an organization that we feel really good about right now.”
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